Despite various excuses made over the past four months by the Courts and Tribunals Service as to why I had not received any official notification for the new trial against me, supposed to begin Friday, February 18th, the fact remains that the document delivered electronically, last Thursday 17th, with less than a day’s notice, was the first time I had set eyes on any official summons to attend trial.
According to at least one account, the Court no longer issues summonses. Nor even bail sheets. And yet, at the eleventh hour, last Thursday morning, official notification from the Court came as an attachment, by email. It is also claimed that the notice was served by post last October. It seems they can’t decide.
As mentioned in my previous post, this new case was used as a reason to keep me locked up behind bars, despite my eligibility and approval for early release ‘on tag’.
I didn’t take Counsel’s advice to ‘bring a bag, just in case’, before setting off Friday morning. However, I did prepare an emergency plan which, as it happens, turned out to be unnecessary.
No delays for once, and a new district judge, Nina Tempia: as far as I am aware, the fourth judge to sit so far in this case, and, in total, my fifth criminal trial (not counting appeals), once again for a silly song.
The judge made it very clear that NHS guidelines regarding Covid must be followed by the Court. Despite the complainant’s negative(!) PCR test, if symptoms are still apparent then guidelines must be followed.
A “short” adjournment was granted until April 7th for a two-day trial.
In fact, this is the third adjournment so far. The Crown’s Counter Terrorism division seemingly has nothing better to do than drag out, for two full years, another case against a singer-songwriter for another satirical song.
It’s become almost impossible to keep track of the number of hearings, not to mention the impressive line-up of magistrates and judges so far. Below are two screenshots of an earlier post, written last March, two weeks before I was sent to jail for breach of my 2018 suspended sentence (also for causing ‘gross offence’ under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003; on this occasion for mean words spoken during two podcasts).
NB At that time, last March, this new case had already been going on since the previous April, 2020, when EIGHT Met officers raided my address following complaints from a person who, the Court learned on Friday, suffers from chronic physical and mental health issues.
To cut a long story short, the Attorney General declined to grant consent. By then, I was already behind bars for breach. Bail pending Appeal was refused by HHJ Tomlinson at Southwark Crown Court on grounds that mine was ‘the most egregious case of hate speech ever encountered by the Court’…
April 24th I appeared by video link from HMP Bronzefield and was told that the Crown were dropping the more serious charge of incitement in favour of another count under Section 127: causing ‘gross offence’ by posting a satirical parody song. Sigh.
I know, I keep repeating the same thing over and over again, but it’s important.
Do judges – or indeed police officers – ever enjoy an occasional night out at, say, a Jimmy Carr gig? Maybe that goes to explain the ‘culture’ (I apply the term loosely) of great British banter?
What am I saying?! Strike me down quick that I may sin no more with such wicked proposals! Our esteemed public servants would never engage in any such egregious behaviour, now, would they?
Back to the story. As mentioned in one of my recent posts, the new case was used as a reason to keep me locked up behind bars, twice, despite my approved eligibility for early release ‘on tag’.
Therefore, almost exactly one year after police investigations began, April 24th as already noted above, I appeared by video link from prison in front of Senior District Judge, Paul Goldspring. Precise details of what transpired have been stored for another day. In sum, the Crown and the Court wanted an immediate ‘guilty’ plea.
Easy to bully someone in prison. I resisted, pleaded ‘not-guilty’ and waited to see what came next.
Having lost on appeal my breach trial, by the time the new date for the new trial came around, scheduled September 1st, I was – surprise, surprise – back in prison. Again, no release on tag because of this latest case against me.
The trial date was vacated because of the complainant’s ill-health. Another hearing was listed for October 18th. By then back home, without needing to attend and still on strict Licence, I left the job in the capable hands of my Counsel, Mr Davies.
I was informed only by email of the new trial date of February 18th. I awaited official notification from the court. A month later, still without notice, and on advice from my solicitor Kevin Lowry-Mullins of TV Edwards, I presented myself at the Court reception and was told that the date was ‘pencilled-in’, had not yet been fixed for sure, and that there was no change in bail conditions. I would, said the charming assistant, get a summons in due course were the trial to go ahead.
Finally, as mentioned at the very beginning of this update, last Wednesday — after regularly updating my lawyers as to the continuing lack of any official summons — my solicitor asked the court why I still hadn’t been served. The following morning, less than 24 hours before the trial was due to start, the documents appeared as electronic attachments in an email, dated October 19th.
Originals stolen by the postman, perchance?
There have been at least seven hearings so far, and we are now on the third adjournment. Chances of the complainant being well enough to testify next time must be slim, as everyone in court on Friday seemed to agree.
Although, not being well enough for cross examination does not mean being too unwell to tweet…
I’m reminded of how ill I was, last March, during my breach trial in the same court. To prolong my distress, cross-examination by the Prosecution was halted mid-way through, meaning more stress and another sleepless night of vomiting and diarrhoea.
But I didn’t have Covid. And I turned up to Court both days, as I have always turned up in the past; including on Appeal last August, when the same technique of spreading cross-examination over two days was permitted, thereby increasing the pressure on the Appellant, yours truly. B*st*rds.
In the days preceding an important hearing, every ring of the door bell, every notification of an email, my heart begins to race and I am left shaking. But I still turn up to court.
Others, in my view, (no names mentioned), possess neither the physical nor mental state necessary to face and survive such a gruelling experience.
Two journalists were present in the public gallery last Friday. After listening to the application to adjourn, they didn’t bother waiting to find out the next supposed trial date. No doubt, once again, things will be dragged out to the very last minute; clear evidence of incompetence (and worse) will be brushed aside by way of some ‘administrative error’ vaguery.
As stated above, one might expect Counter Terrorism to have better things to do with all those extra resources. Bullying members of the public into submission using public funds isn’t a good look. Five trials and counting. I rest my case.
For many months now I have been planning to write down my experience properly, in book form, with musical accompaniment and, eventually, a new one-woman show. To be able to fulfill my aim, I need your help. Any donation, large or small, would be most welcome, as would indeed any form of sponsorship. All offers will be carefully considered and all those who participate will receive gifts ranging from individual songs and videos to compilations of my work. More info to come. In the meantime, please see here.